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Are West Metro Communities Lukewarm on Yellow Ribbon Effort?

Hopkins officials say Excelsior, Minnetonka and Wayzata worry about the staff time involved.

Local leaders originally envisioned the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program as a partnership of six west metro communities helping members of the Minnesota National Guard and their families. But Hopkins officials worry some of the communities have been scared off by unwarranted fears about the demands it would place on city staff.

The west metro group Edina, Excelsior, Hopkins, Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and Wayzata. Edina has already passed a resolution supporting the initiative, and Hopkins expects to pass its resolution next week.

But Hopkins City Manager Mike Mornson told council members Tuesday that Excelsior and Wayzata aren’t sure they want to participate. Meanwhile, Hopkins council members viewed Minnetonka’s upcoming resolution as tepid.

Mornson said the other communities worry their staffs don’t have enough time to devote to the project.

However, Minnetonka officials say they are very supportive of the mission of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon campaign and look forward to working collaboratively with the other cities.

In a meeting with Yellow Ribbon representatives, Minnetonka City Manager John Gunyou, himself a Disabled American Veteran, suggested a regional approach to the campaign in order to leverage the strengths and participation of multiple communities.

Still, some Edina council members wondered what they were pledging their support to and what the city’s role would be.

Edina Councilman Josh Sprague said he had no problem with giving preliminary support to the program but was concerned it was not clear what the council's endorsement actually meant for the city.

"What kind of support are we pledging to this group?" Sprague said. "We don't have an answer to that. I don't even know really what our role is."

The first-term councilman said he had no problem with the city showing interest in the partnership but wanted to mitigate over-committing city resources without additional details.

Despite those concerns, the Edina City Council unanimously approved the resolution to participate in the coalition.

Qualifying to be a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group is not a quick action. It requires a 16-step process that takes about a year.

But that doesn’t mean it soaks up city staff time. The goal is to find local “champions” in the community who can see the effort through. Hopkins Councilman Jason Gadd said a Minnetonka woman has already contacted him about wanting to get involved.

Said Hopkins Mayor Gene Maxwell: “If every city goes out and finds a few people to champion it, it shouldn’t be that hard to do.”

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What do you think the resolutions say about the communities’ support?

Hopkins council members said they thought the Minnetonka resolution was more lukewarm than the one Hopkins plans to approve. Take a look at the resolutions from Edina, Hopkins and Minnetonka and tell us what you think.

Edina (passed May 1)

  • “Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Edina City Council approves the city’s role in the Southwest Twin Cities Yellow Ribbon Coalition and pledges its support for the work of this six‐city collaboration.”

Hopkins (before the council May 15)

  • “Now therefore be it resolved, that the City of Hopkins City Council approves the city’s role in the Southwest Twin Cities Yellow Ribbon Coalition and pledges its support for the work of this six-city collaboration.”

Minnetonka (before the council May 14)

  • “The Minnetonka City Council applauds the role of Minnetonka community members and organizations in participating in the Southwest Twin Cities Yellow Ribbon Coalition, and pledges its support in helping the Coalition to connect volunteers and resources in order to meet its goal of creating a network for service members and their families.”
James Warden May 09, 2012 at 07:49 PM
It's actually not supposed to involve much staff time at all. The goal is to find local champions—VFW/Legion leaders, faith groups, businesses, civic groups—willing to volunteer their time.
Ryan Gauthier May 09, 2012 at 07:50 PM
From what I understand, it's all a matter of how many volunteers a city has on board. The city itself serves more as a guide to the various resources, but it's up to volunteers within the community to step up to the plate.
Becky Glander May 09, 2012 at 08:07 PM
The city of Minnetonka isn't worried about the staff time, because of it being done as a regional program.
Josie Fontana May 10, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Our family just had a soldier return from Iraq. He was part of the Red Bulls div. in Hibbing. Our family was one of the few in the west metro. Most of the families were in the Hibbing/Duluth area. It was disheartening to find there weren't many events or organizations here in the twin cities. The closest any family events came to Edina were in Roseville. It's really too bad this campaign wasn't already in place. Although I couldn't be of much service now, I would definitely love to be a part of this group in the future.
Steve Campos May 11, 2012 at 08:40 AM
Contacting other Yellow Ribbon Networks and asking them how they got started, how they are doing and what the involvement is all about can address these questions. www.btyr.org is a good start to finding out about this program. Looking at a few websites can give a person a "feel" about involvement etc. (www.beyondtheyellowribbonisanti.org) is a good way to see what city involvement is. It is not much actually. -- Our county has cities that have been Yellow Ribbon since 2009 and Yellow Ribbon Network of Washington Co has its own facebook. Many cities involvement is to have one staff member attend the monthly meetings as a representative of the city. Like others are saying, all of your champions are already there, they just need to unite.

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